“The Hunted”, by CJ Hart

The Hunted ebook cover

Just your average boy-meets-girl, boy-kills-people story.
The Native American Navajo tribe has stories of a monster so wicked, so blood-thirsty, that they are to be hunted down and slaughtered. But are they just legends? Or is something sinister lurking in the shadows? The Yee Naaldlooshi—skinwalkers—have the ability to transform themselves. And they can be anyone. Anything.
The Hunters—a group dedicated to tracking the creatures—are hot on their trail and they won’t stop until every last one is dead. But are they all as evil as foretold? Seb, alpha of the Taylor, Arizona reservation pack, begins to question the acts of their kind. But he’s broken a rule and must choose between killing the girl he loves or risking everything to save her. Cassie must fight for her survival. The pack is after her. And they’re no joke. Cass is about to find out how sadistic they can be.

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The Hunted EXCERPT:

Cassie

When I wake, my room is still dark. My skin is peppered with tiny bumps, though it’s hot enough in here to cauterize my organs and dry out my lips. I lay frozen, ears pricked up, listening for the sound that stripped me of sleep.

Rustle, rustle, snuff. Rustle, rustle, snuff, snuff.

Curious and petrified, I open one eye and squint into the night. Is someone in my room? Something? Tree shadows dance across the darkened green walls. It’s quiet again. For a moment, I’m convinced it’s all in my head. Then a movement by the window jolts me. I drag my eyes to the glass.

No way. No. I cannot believe it.

At first, I notice its gray fur, matted in places around its muzzle and ears. Then its spearmint-green, glowing irises lock with mine.

Heat pinballs up my spine, firing signals into my brain. Run! Run!

Kelley—who I’ve known my entire life, Dad’s oldest and dearest friend—warned me of these creatures. Bloodthirsty monsters who can appear to be anyone, anything. They taunt us, track us, and feed on us. The survival rate is nil. And though I’ve never seen a skinwalker up close before, I am not afraid. Something in his eyes tells me not to be. They’re calm, curious. Friendly. Kind. There’s pain in them too, and I can’t help wondering why a sadistic creature would feel anything other than menace.

When I dare for a closer look, a leg tangles in the sheets and I stumble out of bed. I fall on my face. “Ow.” My nose presses into the oak. I swivel my head towards the window. The wolf is gone, a ghost in the night. Just your imagination, Cass. The moonlight playing tricks.

I try to convince myself that is the answer, but it doesn’t work. Throwing open the window, I lean out. Rain drops splash onto my face. The wind is like icicles on my flesh. My eyes scrape across the yard. Is my wolf out there, cloaked in the shadows? I guess I’ll never know.

I shut the window and tiptoe back into bed, where I wait for sleep to find me. But after twenty minutes of lying there, I’m wide awake. I roll over and clench my eyelids shut. In the distance, howling ensues. My wolf? It brings a comfort to me that I’ve sorely missed.

I drift off, listening to his broken cries.

MEET THE AUTHOR, CJ HART!

Do you read for pleasure from the same genre you write in?

No, I tend to read more dystopians and fantasy than paranormal (the genre of The Hunted).

What were you doing five years ago?

I was in my second year of college, studying Chemistry.

What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?

Well, if I didn’t leave my degree to become an author, I would have graduated and be putting that degree to use.

How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Depends on the size of the book. I can write 50,000 words a month, minimum, but The Hunted only took 2 1/2 to 3 weeks I think 😛

If you could co-write a book with anyone (doesn’t have to be an author), who would it be?

Either my buddy (and author) Michelle Irwin, or my Mum 😀 It would have to be with someone I trust completely.

When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process (outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?

I love every part! Every part is hard at times, but I just love the whole process — from idea to final edit!

What are your current writing projects?

I am working on finishing the next book in the Abandoned series, The Wicked. But shhh…I can’t tell you anything yet 😉 It’s gonna be a good one though!

Do you listen to music while you write?

Yep. I make playlists for each book.

Coffee or tea? Juice or Soda?

Coffee, definitely. And neither.

What is one non-writing-related accomplishment or event or special moment you’re proud of?

This is a tough one…but I’d say: each year for my birthday I ask for money instead of presents and donate it all to This Star Won’t Go Out foundation (TSWGO.org). After reading the book of the same name by Esther Earl, a sixteen year old girl living with metastasized papillary thyroid cancer, it changed my life forever. Donating to TSWGO helps other families who are suffering from financial hardship related to childhood cancer. Esther’s birthday was the day after mine, so that’s how this tradition came about.

Do you have a favorite television series?

I have several…NCIS, Supernatural, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, SVU, and more.

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